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August 12, 2020
Using Incentives to Boost Fundraising for Events and Campaigns
By Kerri Moore

Kerri Moore
Kerri Moore
Anything that can boost your fundraising efforts will ultimately further your nonprofit’s mission, which is why it’s important to understand the role that incentives play when raising funds through events or campaigns.

Incentives can motivate both your individual fundraisers and your donors.

Incentives, however, are not stand-alone items. They must be framed in the context of helping people in need. After all, the focus of your fundraising should always be on the people, animals, or communities that your nonprofit aids. Consider the following.

Events are opportunities to interact with your current donor base and reach new supporters, specifically by using product sales or through VIP treatment.

Product sales allow your nonprofit to raise money by providing donors with things that they want or need. There are plenty of product fundraising ideas to choose from (this guide has more than 60), but you’ll want to ensure that your event products are:
  1. Branded. Your nonprofit’s name and logo should be displayed on the product. Branding will remind your supporters of your organization every time they use the product. Additionally, branded products spread awareness of your organization to anyone who sees them.
  2. Practical. Products like t-shirts and water bottles can be used many times over. Supporters may be more inclined to purchase items that they can incorporate into their daily lives.
To collect funds, you can use an on-site giving kiosk for your supporters (especially those who prefer credit or debit to cash). That way, your supporters will be able to easily purchase your products.

VIP treatment can help your donors feel like valued, appreciated members of your organization when they make a substantial gift. This kind of incentive is usually reserved for major donors or loyal supporters who have contributed for many years.

Using VIP treatment as an incentive will require early event planning. You’ll need to reach out to major donors well before the event begins. VIP incentives can include:

  • Prime seating.
  • A meet-and-greet with celebrities or bands involved in the event.
  • A special, premium meal.
  • The opportunity to give a speech.
  • A spotlighted role related to the event (i.e. shooting the pistol at a walkathon).
These incentives directly involve donors in your event and demonstrate your nonprofit’s appreciation for your donors’ support.

Fundraising Campaigns
Fundraising campaigns allow your nonprofit to raise money for a specific cause within your mission.

Incentives pair particularly well with peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns, where each supporter should meet an individual fundraising goal, and can use prizes and rewards and competition.

Prizes and Rewards

To incentivize your individual fundraisers, you can offer prizes for reaching certain fundraising milestones. The key is that prizes should clarify the fundraising goals and benchmarks for each supporter, e.g., raise $100 and earn a t-shirt.

You don’t have to limit yourself to physical prizes, however. Reward your supporters with entertainment for reaching the overall fundraising goal. For example, a board member, principal, or prominent figure in your organization can offer themselves up for an entertaining spectacle, such as head shaving or hair dyeing, wearing a silly costume, taking a pie to the face, or otherwise getting messy.

These experiential rewards are all about drawing your supporters together to enjoy some silliness.


A little friendly competition can add some fun to the fundraising mix all while encouraging supporters to increase their fundraising efforts as they vie for the top spot.

To create competition, make sure to use:
  • Leaderboards. Leaderboards are visual reminders of the top individual fundraisers and/or fundraising teams. Watching names climb the board can inspire your supporters to work even harder to keep up with the competition. Likewise, friends and family may be motivated to give more to raise their preferred supporter’s standing.

  • Recognition. Recognizing your top supporters on social media or in print materials can both motivate and inspire your fundraising base. People want to see other people doing good work. With recognition, all of your supporters can see others maximizing their fundraising potential.
You can integrate these features into your online fundraising efforts. You may, for example, place your leaderboard on your campaign page for easy access. As long as your website meets your donors’ needs, then you can use your online platforms to promote competition and recognize your top contributors.

Creating incentives for your donors will require different strategies depending on whether you’re hosting an event, running a campaign, or reaching out to your annual fund donors.

Ultimately, incentives help you engage your donors and encourage the support that your nonprofit needs.

Kerri Moore is the Director of Marketing at Booster, Created by CustomInk. She and her team help create content aimed at maximizing organizers’ fundraising potential and furthering their mission to raise awareness for the cause or passion that means the most to them. Email to her at

August 2016
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